Article posted on 28/6/2019,

Author: Felix Kankhokwe



Embracing farming as a business is a concept which Chitowo Soya Cooperative farmers have adopted since 2016. Chitowo Cooperative covers 12 villages and has farmers from 8 Group Village Headmen under T/A Kaphuka in Dedza. It operates its activities from its headquarters at Chitowo. Its total membership is 572 of which 210 are men and are 362 women. It has 18 farmer clubs and grows various major crops including maize, beans, groundnuts and cassava; Chitowo Cooperative also grow soya as a cash crop.
Chitowo Cooperative’s mindset towards agribusiness changed when the farmers were trained on the ACE Marketing School. The main concepts which farmers are trained on during an ACE Marketing School are Marketing Information, Trade Facilitation and the Warehouse Receipt System. The farmers acquired skills on how to access market information and how to use it to get better markets. They also learned to trade through ACE in order to realize higher profit margins. Ability to identify the right time to sell their produce while safekeeping it in and ACE certified warehouse was also one of the key technical messages they were trained on. Furthermore, the Cooperative members registered to receive weekly market prices from ACE in order to make informed decisions with regards to where and when to sell their commodity.
During 2017/18 season the farmers cultivated 25.5ha of soya and members managed to aggregate 80mT. In total 54 people aggregated the commodity; 19 males and 53 females. The commodity was sold at k330/kg against the prevailing Dedza price of k310/kg.
The commodity was sold for k26,400,000, which, after deducting expenses left a profit of k16,000,000. This was possible as a result of the commodity being marketed collectively, as well as the RMA assistance to find a better market. Each individual member was able to sell at k20/kg higher than other FO members who did not trade through ACE. The RMA was able to link the FO members to one of the prominent buyers of agricultural produce in Lilongwe, Export Trading Company. The company agreed to buy the soya on an FCA term and money was paid on the spot (cash) at Chitowo after a fruitful negotiation with the RMA. Farmers were happy with the deal and the trade was registered successfully.
The chairman of Chitowo Cooperative, Chionetselo Thomas is one of the farmers who benefitted from the trade. Mr Thomas planted his soya Makwacha variety on 4 gardens with double rows, amounting to an area of approximately 1.1ha; he produced 2,700kgs which he sold at k330.00/kg. Mr. Thomas made k891,000 and had to cover expenses amounting to k377, 550, leaving him with a profit of k533,450. With this money, Mr. Thomas was able to buy 2 cows and build a house with iron sheets.

3 classes from Chitowo Cooperative were trained on the ACE Marketing School

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